The woman sighed, that kind of audible, can-you-feel-my-pain type of sigh that begs for attention. “My daughter is still trying to figure out what she’s going to do with her life.”
Boisterous laughter followed immediately from the younger of her two companions. “Me too!” she giggled now. “I mean, I just graduated last week, and I’ve been working in my field for more than three years, but I have no idea what I want to do with my life!”
I couldn’t help myself. “Do any of us? We work on that every day of our lives. I promise it’s normal, no matter who you are–or how old.” My laugh at the end softened my unsolicited interjection.
The younger of the companions whose name I would learn was Mia, looked up from her determined gait along the trail we traversed, and almost beamed.
“Really?” And she laughed again. Her laughter was strong and sweet and evidence to me that she was going to be more than okay. She had the keys to success already, joy and a passion for adventure. And the way she tackled our hike, it was clear she knew how to work hard and overcome challenges too. She didn’t need to do anything with her life but live and love it!
“Really.” I reiterated. “I still wonder, on a regular basis what I want to do now, or next, and even think to myself…’when I grow up I want to be …’ … seriously, we’re all wondering and seeking… .”
Her mom, Lila, chimed in, “isn’t that the truth?”
And, isn’t it?
We hiked Paradise Trail today, a name too obvious for pondering our journeys and reflecting on our destinations, but real nonetheless. As we hiked my mind wandered even as my feet fell solidly on the path.
What will I learn this year? What will I overcome? What difference will I make?
When will I finish my dissertation? What next? Am I doing my best? Is my heart full of love? Do I see people as people?
Do I see myself as valuable enough to answer these questions without judgment?
Atop Paradise Trail I felt strong and certain even though I don’t know what the future holds. I can answer these questions one day at a time, without judgment, and remind myself that I’ve already come a long way.
I have a path I’ve chosen, and it’s beautiful. It’s not paved, but it’s clear enough to follow. There are also plenty of opportunities to veer and revise my route if I choose, which I know is something of a luxury. And there’s some amazing scenery to take in. Even better, there are places to stop and replenish my body and soul with some shade, some company, and of course plenty of water and time to catch my breath. Places like Paradise Trail today.
A group of strangers, all somehow from the state of Oregon converging in the middle of the southern Utah desert to remind each other that no one has it all figured out. We are all deciding daily what to do with our lives. And we need to celebrate that together, for ourselves and for each other.
We’re all doing the best we can with what we have to carve out our own paths and to make them beautiful. Paradise is just where we meet along the way.
“Going my way?”
“I’m not sure, it looks promising in all directions.”
“Then let’s head out this way, together, for now.”